On this week’s Fear the Walking Dead we have two road trips. One is a return to a place I wasn’t expecting to see again and the other is a reminder that TEOTWAWKI is a good time to settle old scores. Also Nick, Luciana, and Alicia try to figure out their places in their new circumstances.

Remember that old couple that Nick was watching dance a couple of weeks ago? Well, the wife dies during the night, turns, and the husband puts her (and himself) down. But he also accidentally sets their house on fire. Troy and Jake lead the firefighting effort until Jeremiah tells them to just let it burn. The place is sitting out on its own so there’s little danger of the fire spreading. I’ll get back to the house in a bit.

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It’s time for Madison and Troy’s Excellent Road Trip. They set off with four others to find out what happened to a missing patrol. The group makes an unscheduled stop to deal with some walkers. The walkers weren’t an immediate threat but Troy gets off on the violence. Madison holds her own and earns a little respect from the others. The group finds the missing patrol but they have been brutally killed except for one who is alive but has a crow pecking at his exposed brain. Then they are surrounded by armed Native Americans. The trip becomes a lot less excellent at that point.

The Native American leader, Walker (this could get confusing real fast), wants the land back that rightfully belongs to his people, including the Broke Jaw Ranch. He and his group take Troy’s group’s weapons and shoes then makes them walk back to the ranch to deliver his message.

On the way Madison challenges Troy’s authority to force a rest break. That night she wakes up with Troy on top of her with a knife to her throat. He backs away from killing her but she notices that another member of the group watched the whole thing without saying or doing anything. They are still Troy’s men and won’t directly oppose him over her.

The other road trip is with odd couple Victor Strand and Daniel Salazar. Strand doubles down on his story about Ofelia and the others waiting at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. Daniel knows Strand is a bullshitter but hope is a powerful thing. He has to see for himself to know for sure. They arrive at the hotel to find the gates open. The place is overrun with walkers and abandoned by the living. Daniel forces Strand to admit the truth. He doesn’t know where Ofelia is. Daniel abandons Strand at the hotel and drives off in Strand’s sweet ride back to the dam and Lola.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch* Nick, Luciana, and Alicia make some choices.

Nick decides to rebuild the burnt down house. (The old couple who had lived there were among the original founders of the ranch.) Jeremiah joins him. Jeremiah finds an old revolver in the ruins (the same pistol the old man used in the opening scene) and they have a philosophical moment. Jeremiah considers the pistol a beautiful tool (and drops the quote I used in the post title) but Nick doesn’t like what a deadly tool designed for one purpose represents.

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Nick is willing to stay at the Broke Jaw but Luciana wants no part of it. After spending one last night with Nick she leaves the ranch. It looks like she reaches the border.

Alicia bonds with Jake and goes to bed with him. She has lost interest in the things she used to enjoy before The End but Jake tries to get her interested in art and culture again. She ends up taking the Nestea Plunge and finding some joy in living again.

One thing FtWD has done better than the original TWD is make things a little more gray. The Governor, Negan and his Saviors, the folks of Terminus, and other groups we’ve seen on The Walking Dead are unambiguously bad guys. Things aren’t so clear cut with the Broke Jaw Ranch and Walker’s Native Americans.

Jeremiah Otto has a certain vision of a new America that the show has tiptoed around but is still obvious if you’re paying attention. But his son Jake has a more liberal view of things and realizes the importance of culture and the arts in a TEOTWAWKI world. People like Jake are necessary if the world is going to recover from what is effectively a new Dark Age.

While the Native Americans have a legitimate beef with the ranch, their “kill them all” attitude means they aren’t on the summit of the moral high ground either (even if you think that their actions are justified). Since they were responsible for Travis’ death, they don’t have Madison’s sympathy and by extension we the audience probably aren’t supposed to be completely supportive of them either.

Assorted Thoughts:

  • Ranchers vs. Indians? We got ourselves a post-apocalyptic western, pardner. This is the Walking Dead universe so things are going to get bloody and I don’t think the cavalry is going to ride in at the last moment to save the day.
  • Like I mentioned at the top of the post, with human nature being what it is, TEOTWAWKI is an opportunity for old scores to be settled. Imagine what’s going on in someplace like the Balkans after The End.
  • Strand wasn’t gone that long from the Rosarito Beach Hotel so whatever occurred happened fast. We don’t know what happened to the people there that Strand knows so we may see them again.
  • What is going to happen with Strand? It’s probably safe to say he’s persona non grata back at the dam.
  • I’ll keep asking this every week until there’s an answer. Where is Ofelia?

*Ha! I get to use this cliched line without it sounding forced.